Hatters Selected for NCAA Beach Volleyball Championship

After a week of uncertainty regarding its postseason fate, the Stetson beach volleyball team got the news it had been hoping for Sunday night.

The Hatters are headed back to Gulf Shores.

Stetson was selected as the No. 8 seed and will face No. 1 seed Southern Cal on Friday morning in the first round of the 2019 NCAA Beach Volleyball Championship in Gulf Shores, Ala.  The Hatters (29-8) and Trojans (28-4) will begin the double elimination tournament at 10 a.m. ET on ESPNU.

Head Coach Kristina Hernandez

“I feel ecstatic, I am super excited for our team and our program,” Stetson head coach Kristina Hernandez said.  “I know we’ve been waiting all day, all week for this. I know that there were a lot of good teams being considered, so I’m excited that we get to be there. Obviously, the team is excited, but now we have to focus on the next part and get ready to compete when we are there.”

Stetson is ranked seventh in the nation in the AVCA Beach coaches poll. The Hatters have won a school-record 13 matches in a row and captured their third straight ASUN Championship last week in DeLand.

Sunniva Helland-Hansen

“It feels amazing,” junior Sunniva Helland-Hansen said. “It is just a joy to see that we’re considered one of the top eight, which I think we really deserve. I just feel very grateful for the work we put in and everything that we sacrificed to get there. I feel this is an opportunity to enjoy the sport even more and show why we are there to compete.”

Stetson and USC will be meeting for the second time this season. The Trojans defeated the Hatters 4-1 at USC’s Merle Norman Stadium in Los Angeles on March 7.

“I like the matchup because we have played them this year,” Hernandez said. “We played them right after we had that Long Beach game, and we were on a emotional high/low kind of thing. I know that they feel good about that matchup, and that’s always good going into a tournament like this. It is obviously a very good opponent, so we just have to prep and get ready for that match.”

The Hatters celebrate their third ASUN Beach Volleyball Championship on Saturday, April 20, after beating the FGCU Eagles at Cooper Beach Volleyball Courts at Stetson. Romeo Guzman/ASUN

The Stetson-USC winner will advance to play the winner of the LSU-Pepperdine match at 4 p.m. Friday, while the loser faces an elimination match at 2 p.m. Friday. The championship continues through Sunday.

Also joining the field are UCLA, Florida State, Cal Poly and Hawaii.

The Hatters will be making their second appearance in the NCAA national championship.  Stetson earned the No. 8 seed in 2016 and fell to FSU (3-0) and UCLA (3-2).

ESPNU will televise Friday’s matches, while ESPN2 and ESPN will broadcast the event on Saturday and Sunday. In addition, live streaming coverage of every court in each match of the tournament will be available on NCAA.com.